After competing in cross country and indoor and outdoor track for four years and racking up 12 all-conference and seven all-region honors, Mackenzie Donahue of East Aurora has been named Daemen College's nominee for the 2017 NCAA Woman of the Year. One of 544 nominees nationally, she is Daemen's first ever. There are 177 nominess from NCAA Division II. The award aims to recognize academic and athletic achievement, community service and leadership.
"Mackenzie Donahue truly embodies what it means to be an NCAA student-athlete," Daemenj director of athletics Bridget Niland. "Given her penchant for making history in a Daemen uniform, it is only fitting that she become our first NCAA Woman of the Year nominee. Mackenzie's drive and determination, whether it be in running, in her academic work, or in the community has been inspiring to those of us around her. Daemen Athletics is stronger because of the impact she made here over the last four years."
At Daemen, Donahue earned team MVP honors five times, four times for cross country and once in track and field. She was Daemen's Female Athlete of the Year an unprecedented three times.
In cross country she led the Wildcats to the 2013 United States Collegiate Athletic Association national championship. In 2015, she became the first athlete from Daemen to qualify and compete at a national championship event at the NCAA Division II level, doing so in cross country. That year, Donahue finished as the runner-up at the East Coast Conference Cross Country Championship meet, and third at the NCAA Division II East Region Championship meet with the latter earning her a spot in the national championship field. She went on to finish 69th out of 247 competitors at the NCAA Division II National Championship meet held in Joplin, Missouri.
She completed her cross country career last fall, finishing again as the runner-up at the conference championship meet before posting a 10th-place finish at the regional championship meet. She concluded her cross country eligibility with 19 top-10 finishes in 25 career races, while also leaving as the school record-holder for both the 5K and 6K distances.
In track, Donahue dominated at nearly every distance she competed in. Between both the indoor and outdoor seasons, she holds 12 team records. In 2016-17 season she qualified for both the NCAA Division II indoor and outdoor championships. During the indoor season, Donahue broke her own ECC Championship meet records in the 3,000 and 5,000 meters. She finished 13th in the 5,000-meter run at the indoor national meet. During the outdoor season, Donahue posted ECC Championship meet records in the 5,000 and 10,000 meters, ultimately qualifying for the national meet in the latter. There, she ran to a ninth-place finish to earn Second Team All-America honors.
Academically, Donahue has been a multi-time All-Academic honoree from the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association. A six-time Dean's List honoree, Donahue was named last month as the ECC Scholar-Athlete of the Year for track and field. Last month she received her bachelor's degree from Daemen in Healthy Promotion. Her extensive community service involvement included volunteering for Habitat for Humanity, cleaning parks and gardens, and at the Buffalo Marathon.
The NCAA Woman of the Year selection committee will choose the top 10 nominees from each of the three NCAA divisions, and then three finalists from each group before settling on one award recipient. Each one of the 30 honored nominees will be recognized and the 2017 NCAA Woman of the Year will be announced at an awards dinner at the J.W. Marriott in Indianapolis on Sunday, October 22.